If you are an exchange student, you definitely want to make the most out of your time abroad. If you are in Spain, that is especially important, as the country boasts many incredible cities, monuments, and natural heritage to experience and enjoy. As a student, however, the time might be scarce in between lectures, studying, errands, and social activities – after all, Madrid is also a rich city on its own. For a busy lifestyle, a quick day trip out of the city is the perfect option, as you do not need to clear your schedule for an entire week and you can just jet off whenever you have a day off – be it the weekend or just an ordinary Wednesday. If you are unsure of your options, here are a few places that you can visit from Madrid without disrupting your weekly schedule!
Due to its vicinity from Madrid (an hour drive or 30-minute speed train ride), it is a popular day-trip destination. This UNESCO-listed city combines Christian, Muslim, and Jewish heritage and provides a varied experience for anyone visiting it. It is even called the City of Three Cultures, which is descriptive of the churches, mosques, museums, and other spots it has to offer. To get the most out of your day, a Toledo Tourist Card is useful since it provides access to most of the landmarks at a convenient price. If you are not a museum buff, even a walk around the town is refreshing as heritage is everywhere – and if you are an Ancient Roman culture fan, you will enjoy the Roman Circus in Toledo that is located in a beautiful park and convenient to visit on a walk.
Only 45 kilometers from Madrid, this grand palace makes a convenient day trip for anyone interested in history and architecture! Located in San Lorenzo del Escorial, this royal palace includes a monastery and has remained an important monument in Spanish royal life. It was commissioned by King Phillip II in the 16th century and boasts incredible architecture and intricate decorations from famous artists from 16th and 17th centuries. Inspired by Renaissance and Christian artistic styles, this palace is opened for visitors throughout the year and gives you the chance to feel like royalty!
Another UNESCO heritage hotspot on the list is Segovia and it is just half an hour speed train ride away from Madrid! Combining Christian, Roman, and even Jewish heritage, this place has a lot to offer. The Cathedral of Segovia is an impressive Gothic cathedral that also boasts a museum. The Alcazar of Segovia is a unique 12th-century castle that has served as a fortress, state prison, and even royal palace! The most impressive landmark must be the Aqueduct of Segovia, which is a very well preserved Roman aqueduct that is even depicted on Segovia’s coat of arms.
Less than an hour on a speed train takes you to yet another UNESCO-listed town of Cuenca. It has been founded by Moors and is famous for its Historic Walled Town. The town boasts a beautiful cathedral, as well as unique Casas Colgadas – the Hanging Houses of Cuenca. The hanging balconies line the edge of the cliff and make a beautiful sight for anyone looking at them from below. Although not many of them have remained, they are architecturally impressive and can even be visited on the inside. The ruins of the Castle of Cuenca and St. Pablo bridge are just other attractions that make Cuenca worth a visit.
The surroundings of Madrid boast many other famous places to visit, but these are the ones close by and can easily be explored during a one-day trip. For more tips on planning day trips, check out our previous blog post and, once you have done that, go ahead and explore!
By: Viktorija Tuzaite, NHL University of Applied Sciences ’21